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Toby Driver - In The L..L..Library Loft CD (album) cover


Toby Driver



3.66 | 41 ratings

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4 stars Toby Driver's first solo album, containing the puzzling title In The L..L..Library Loft, is quite an interesting affair, to say the very least. Honestly, I'm going to say this up front: if you were one of those unlucky souls that couldn't find much to love in the slow-paced, metal-less 2008 release Blue Lambency Downward (which I personally enjoyed, greatly), and you haven't heard this yet, I earnestly suggest getting it, and soon.

The music is akin to Kayo Dot for sure, but it is typically more experimental, looser, and more based in constructive theory--with obvious roots in a sort of post-modernist avant-classical vein of writing--than most Kayo Dot or maudlin of the Well material. There are only four tracks on the album, but this shouldn't be a huge surprise really, considering that, to date, Kayo Dot only has 18 songs to their name (19 if you include the oh-so-semi-famous Kitty Song) after 3 albums and a split EP, which amounts to an average of 5-6 songs an album (with 1 on the EP).

However, more than ever with material by Toby Driver (exempting Tartar Lamb's debut album, which he also composed), this album is less a series of 4 songs than it is a series of eclectic compositions. Every song is its own experiment--experiments which were obviously deemed a bit too out-there, or perhaps just unrelated, to the experiments Toby tackles within Kayo Dot.

I don't usually do track-by-track reviews, but I think this album warrants it, since each track is so unique, and since I'll be describing the experiments each track undertakes anyway...

Each of the songs has a specific idea in mind, which can be easily identified within the songs themselves. For example, the first track, Kandu vs. Corky (Horrorca), is based around the idea of a bell-curve--bell-sounding instrumentation (lots of odd percussion work--including bells) as well as bell-curved composition; obvious examples being the entire dynamic of the piece, which begins quietly and ominously, before escalating, and then letting off again near the end--and obvious bell-shaped construction. Also, one should take note of the drum work in the song, especially a part played specifically on rims and snares, which begins slowly before rising in tempo, and then falling again--another reflected image of a bell. The whole piece is extremely tense, with Toby bellowing his fiercest guttural croon near the climax--which is quite terrifying.

Which brings me to the whole atmosphere of the album. Unlike Kayo Dot's work, which typically contains downright serene moments, interspersed with bits of madness and chaos, this album follows one basic atmosphere: one of horror and terror. This one's scary, daunting, a wonderful Halloween album I'd say. It is not easy to listen to, I'd say for most people, however it is more than worth listening to.

Every piece is its own experiment, as I've said. The second track, The Lugubrious Library Loft is, according to Toby, based on the need for two persons to perform each instrument. For example, the piano requires a player on the keyboard and a player malleting the strings simultaneously, and so on for each instrument. This song is amazing, in my opinion, as good as a lot of Kayo Dot work. It is a beautiful, coalescing piece of work which builds to an astounding mini-climax, which just blows me away every time I hear it.

Brown Light Upon Us , once again according to Toby himself, tries to use sounds, rhythms, harmonies, etc. that would result in a song that sounded right only when listened to from one room over - in other words, if you heard it in the room it was being played in, it wouldn't sound as good. This is the weakest track on the album for most people, and I'd agree, however, the first ten minutes or so are brilliant, the last few are rather dull and extremely quiet.

Eptaceros is based around some odd horn technique a trumpeter friend of Toby's had been experimenting with, and the song itself is extremely haunting, and very beautiful. The eerie atmosphere comes full circle here, and the album ends on a rather soft note, its last note resounding long after the album is over...

Anyway, that's it. I'm really anticipating another solo album, perhaps containing this mysterious new work Toby's said to have finished (he's supposedly about to perform it with Kayo Dot on this upcoming tour, in August of '08). The bottom line for this one is that is isn't necessarily essential, but it's a definite hit for Kayo Dot fans--especially fans of the band's second album, Dowsing Anemone with Copper Tongue, which, in my opinion, shares some similar elements with this one.

Though the album falters slightly here and there, the overall result is one of punctual subtlety, with an atmosphere that will stick with you for quite a while, and an experimental edge which turns out to work very well, without being allegedly quirky, or too experimental for its own good (except, perhaps, for the last few moments of Brown Light...).

4 stars, and almost 4.5. It takes time, for sure, but fans of Kayo Dot with patient minds which enjoy challenging music should certainly enjoy this album.

Figglesnout | 4/5 |


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